Vehicle Inspection

Check a used vehicle's condition

Learn about hidden problems before you buy

When you buy a used car, it can be difficult to know exactly what you’re getting. With the pre-purchase checks in our Vehicle Inspection, you can see whether a car's in good order before you buy.

As part of our inspection, we'll:

  • Aim to inspect your chosen vehicle usually within 2 to 4 working days of booking
  • Carry out diagnostics checks in our comprehensive inspections
  • Get a trained engineer to call you about the condition of the vehicle
  • Email you a detailed written report within 24 hours of the inspection
  • Include a full photographic report in the price

Plus, if you're already a Member, you'll get 10% off your vehicle inspection with your membership.

Vehicle Inspection options

The price and level of inspection depends on the vehicle you're looking at and the checks you’d like. That includes the type, age, value and model of vehicle, and excludes insurance write-offs.

We can inspect cars, 4x4s, motorhomes, vans, hybrid vehicles and electric cars and vans.

For example, for petrol and diesel cars you can choose from the following:

Basic inspection

from £142

Our standard inspection to help give you peace of mind
  • Up to 155-point check
  • For vehicles up to 10 years old
  • Full photographic report
  • Limited checks of exterior and interior
  • Up to 5-mile road test

Comprehensive inspection

from £191

An inspection with extra checks for added reassurance
  • Up to 206-point check
  • For vehicles of any age
  • Full photographic report
  • Detailed physical inspection, including mechanical parts
  • Bodywork checks for accident damage
  • Up to 10-mile road test

Vehicle inspections from the AA

What's a vehicle inspection?

Every vehicle has a story to tell. And when you're buying a used vehicle, it's hard to tell what condition it's in just by looking at it.

That's where our Vehicle Inspection with pre-purchase checks can help. The inspection includes:

  • Qualified engineer to inspect the car (or van or motorhome) you’re interested in.
  • A report for peace of mind that it's roadworthy and safe.
  • Details about any hidden problems we find before you buy.

Once you have your report, you can point out the issues we've found to the seller before you buy. That way, you can ask the seller if they can fix it or reduce the price before you part with your money.

You can see an example report here.

Why do I need a vehicle inspection?

You can save yourself time, hassle and potentially thousands of pounds with a used car inspection. It won’t delay the sale and it’ll help you avoid any costly surprises.

Our trained engineers give you a completely neutral report on the vehicle’s condition. It means you’ll quickly have detailed information to help you decide whether or not to buy.

If you do decide to buy, you might be able to negotiate a better price with the information in your report.

Get started

“I spoke to the engineer and he was wonderful. I always use you when I buy a car, have done for 25 years!!”

Gen, customer

“I'm so glad you did an inspection on my car which turned out to have unsafe tyres.”

Denis, customer

What does the Vehicle Inspection look at?

Our inspections are visual, external checks which vary depending on the level of service and the vehicle type.

Inspections cover:

  • Body exterior*
  • Engine compartment
  • Electrical controls (interior and luggage compartments)*
  • Front and rear suspension (front and rear under frames)*
  • Steering
  • Clutch
  • Transmission
  • Exhaust system
  • Fuel system
  • Brakes
  • Wheels and tyres
  • Road test of up to 5 or 10 miles (depending on the vehicle type, road conditions, traffic, fuel level and engineer's judgement)

*Limited checks and exclusions apply for basic, van and motorhome inspections.

Questions? Get in touch on 0800 056 8040
Good to know

Cancellations, fees and refunds

  • If you decide a vehicle inspection isn't for you once you've booked, you've got 14 days to change your mind and get a full refund unless you've asked for the inspection to take place during that time.
  • Outside of the 14 days, or if you've asked for the inspection to take place during that time, a cancellation fee of £20 will apply if you cancel by 2pm on the day before the inspection, or £76 if it's after 2pm the day before.
  • Get in touch with us on 0800 009 3873 (8am - 8pm, 7 days a week) or email [email protected].
  • If you change your mind and cancel when the inspection is completed (whether or not a report has been issued), you won't get a refund. This also applies if you've given us incorrect or incomplete information that stops the engineer from carrying out the inspection.
  • Please read our Terms and Conditions in relation to cancellations and refunds.

Why might we refuse to inspect or issue a report?

In certain circumstances we are entitled to refuse to inspect a vehicle or to issue a report, including:

  • If our engineer can’t get reasonable access to the vehicle to carry out the inspection.

  • If the vehicle doesn't have an MOT.

  • If the vehicle doesn’t appear to be of standard production (it may be a kit car or been modified in a certain way) or to be roadworthy.

  • If you have given us incorrect or incomplete information which means that the engineer is prevented from carrying out the inspection.

The inspection fee remains fully payable in such circumstances. We'll let you know if that's the case.

Important documents


What types of vehicles don't we inspect?

If the vehicle you're interested in buying is one of these, then we're not able to inspect it:

  • Horse boxes
  • American imports
  • Kit cars
  • Limousines
  • Motorcycles
  • London taxis / Hackney carriages
  • Vehicles over 3.5 tonnes or trolley jacks
  • Specific high-performance vehicles (supercars or hypercars)

We also can't inspect:

  • Disability controls and modifications – although we can check the vehicle
  • Commercial refrigeration units fitted to vehicles – although we can check the vehicle
  • Body tipping equipment fitted to a vehicle
  • Tail lifts fitted for any vehicle

What doesn't the Vehicle Inspection cover?

Our Vehicle Inspection won't cover:

  • Dismantling, removing, disconnecting or taking apart any item on the vehicle (for more details see our Ts&Cs)
  • Vehicle data checks, or mileage accuracy – but you can use our vehicle check to get information on this
  • Oil and fuel consumption
  • Sources of oil leaks
  • Multimedia systems or sat navs
  • Cylinder compression
  • Air-conditioning function and efficiency (using specific diagnostic equipment)
  • Vehicle electrics and electronics (requiring the use of specific diagnostic equipment)
  • Exhaust emissions and/or catalytic converters (requiring the use of gas analysing equipment)
  • Habitation area of motor homes (electrical systems, water/gas fittings and associated appliances; body/caravan area for water ingress or dampness)

Who does the inspection?

The inspection is carried out by one of our engineers or an engineer working on our behalf.

What should I ask the seller before I book?

For us to carry out a pre-purchase vehicle inspection, you need the seller’s permission.

You'll want to tell the seller

  • You're arranging an inspection, and get their permission to have it performed
  • The inspection includes a road test – make sure the vehicle's available

So that the vehicle’s ready for the engineer, ask the seller if the vehicle

  • Has a valid MOT certificate (if applicable)
  • Has enough oil, water and fuel for the road test
  • Is on an off-road location on a hard, level surface
  • Is reasonably clean

You’ll still have to pay the full fee if the engineer refuses or is unable to carry out any part of the inspection because the vehicle wasn’t set up for them. Plus there’ll be an additional fee for any later road test you ask us to carry out.

Who's responsible for any defects?

Our engineer performs a visual inspection of the car and carries out a road test. Any defects or notes are reported to you. It's then for you to raise these with the seller, and it's their responsibility to look at any defects or notes reported.

What do I get if I'm a Member?

If you're a Member with us and have an active Breakdown Cover policy, you'll get 10% off your inspection.

You can find out more about Smart Benefits and the other benefits which come with membership, including our free accident assist helpline an discounts on other products like car insurance and home insurance.